The Norwegian government has stepped in to end a strike by offshore oil and gas workers that forced Equinor to temporarily shut down production at three fields and threatened to impact more than half of gas exports on the Norwegian continental shelf amid an energy supply crunch.
Members of the Norwegian Organisation of Managers and Executives (Lederne) went on strike on Tuesday, demanding wage increases to compensate for rising inflation. The talks on a wage deal broke down last week, resulting in industrial action that by Saturday would have slashed daily gas exports by roughly 1.1m boe, or 56% of daily gas exports, as per the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association.
The Norwegian government has the authority to intervene in strikes under certain circumstances. Norway covers a quarter of Europe’s energy consumption and, given the risk of further shutdowns which would have, according to gas transmission system operator Gassco, cut off Norway’s supplies to the UK at the weekend, the Norwegian Labor Ministry took action on Tuesday evening and imposed a forced settlement.
“The announced escalation is critical in today’s situation, both with regards to the energy crisis and the geopolitical situation we are in with a war in Europe,” labour minister Marte Mjøs Persen said, adding: “It is unjustifiable to allow gas production to stop to such an extent that this strike in the next few days is estimated to lead to.”
Under the forced settlement by the government, workers will return to work and get the same terms that other unions had agreed to, with specifics to be agreed upon at a later stage.